February 6th, 2012
11:08 AM ET
2 years ago

Obama: Israel undecided on attack against Iran

(CNN) – President Barack Obama on Sunday said Israel has not decided whether it will strike Iran, but added if tensions escalate this spring, no options would be taken off the table.

“I don't think Israel has made a decision,” Obama said in the president’s traditional pre-Super Bowl interview, this time with NBC’s Matt Lauer.

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But he stressed that the United States would work with Israel to resolve the situation using diplomacy.

“(Israel), like us, believe(s) that Iran has to stand down on its nuclear weapons program,” he said.

The United States, he said in an additional portion of the interview which aired Monday, has "a pretty good bead on what's happening with the nuclear program."

"I think we have a very good estimate of when they could potentially achieve breakout capacity, what stage they're at in terms of processing uranium," the President said.

He acknowledged challenges in predicting Iranian moves, including internal divisions within the country.

His comments came after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters on Thursday there is a growing likelihood Israel could attack Iran in the spring.

Obama argued Iran is “feeling the pinch” after the international community has enforced sanctions in an “unprecedented” way to pressure the country away from developing its suspected nuclear weapons facilities.

“Until they do, I think Israel is going to be rightly very concerned. And we are, as well,” Obama said.

Obama said the U.S. has closer “intelligence and military consultations” with Israel than ever. And while he insisted his administration is adamant for a peaceful resolution, the president didn’t rule out military involvement.

“We're not going to take options off the table. And I've been very clear, we're going to do everything we can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and creating a nuclear arms race in a volatile region,” Obama said.

Turning to politics, the president re-visited his pre-Super Bowl interview from 2009, when he said if his economic ideas failed to turn around the struggling economy, his presidency would be “a one-term proposition.”

The line has become a staple on the campaign trail for many Republican presidential candidates, who argue that the president's economy policies have indeed failed.

But on Sunday, the president said the economy has made progress since he took office and emphasized the need to stay on a track that “doesn’t throw that progress off.”

“I deserve a second term. But we are not done,” Obama said, outlining the need to boost American manufacturing and energy. “And we have to return to old-fashioned, American values. Everybody getting a fair shot. Everybody doing their fair share. And everybody playing by the same rules.”

As for his Super Bowl pick, the president–despite repeated questioning–would not take the bait and gave no predictions on which team will take home the trophy.

“I think this is going to be a tough game. Both teams have their weaknesses. They're not as strong as they were I think a couple years ago. When you look at the Patriots, their defense is a little shaky. The Giants have just come back,” Obama said. “I can't tell you who's going to win this thing.”

– CNN's Ashley Killough and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.

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Gingrich will try to reset strategy

Romney backer calls on Gingrich to drop out

Romney faults stimulus at plant that received $2.3 million


Filed under: 2012 • Iran • Israel • President Obama
soundoff (160 Responses)
  1. israeli,nazareth illit.

    i used to think obama is stupid
    now im sure about it

    February 5, 2012 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  2. anonymous californian

    are you kidding me? as for the president's super bowl pick?? in the same article as a major international security concern??? you have no respect for news.

    February 5, 2012 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  3. jesuschristthesepeople

    Screw Israel, screw foreign wars for Israel based on threats that don't exist in reality but through fear and the mechanized, deliberate buildup to war. Remember the war in Iraq? That was instigated on behalf of Israel due to fear of SCUD missile attacks, and... we find no weapons of mass destruction an meanwhile are broke. Israel has over 200 nuclear weapons, they refuse to admit they have, that WE gave them, and they are not even part of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty that IRAN voluntarily signed! The irony is so thick the only thing more absurd is how quick we all are to approve yet ANOTHER foreign war on the other side of the world for our 'security'. WAKE UP PEOPLE!

    February 5, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  4. David McLoughlin

    Let's be honest. The US will not decide on if and when to strike Iran. It will be the Israeli's who will tell us when to strike the Iran. Get ready for the the third war in the region. If you don't believe that this is going to happen within the year then you are severely mistaken.

    February 5, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  5. thomas mc

    Obama is a liar just like Dubya.

    February 6, 2012 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  6. tonhuethong

    I do not ever want to discuss politics, but this is not a problem for Iran, U.S., and Israel. In my opinion, America does not have the right to ban nations for space science, or advanced weapons, even nuclear weapons. I believe that, if the United States invented nuclear weapons competition from other countries just follow the American National. If the United States shall exempt, the entire nation shall remove competition where other provision has specialized invasion. This war is not fair to Iran National, if the United States and its allies invaded Iran. As everyone knows Nuclear Weapons is to kill mankind, in the United States each day to manufacture more?. This question only few people know, this is the secret of American National. I say hope you understand it more widely.

    February 6, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  7. Bo

    "I deserve another term" "the economy made progress since he took office"
    HAHA that's just a slap to the face of reality. Not just a slap, that's a straight up roadhouse kick and a disgusting lie to american people. US deficit in 2009- 6 trillion; US deficit in 2012 14 trillion. That's more than double in 3 years of his presidency. While i know some of it was obviously from the previous government, he can't expect americans to be so stupid that they'll believe his making the country better and making the economy stronger. Or can he? People, if you elect Obama again, i'm done with this country

    February 6, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  8. No Hope, No Change

    A war with Iran scared me so much 4 years ago i voted for the first time for a democrat & encouraged others to do the same. "No options off the table"? Sounds very Bush/Mccain to me. I know one option that's off the table, and that is me ever voting for you again, Mr. President.

    February 6, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  9. Fear makes you the aggressor!

    Fear makes you the aggressor! In the end what was truly bad will show itself! Which side will you be on?

    February 6, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  10. enkephalin07

    Not sure Israel has a choice; Iran has repeatedly threaten to blow them off the map, and that can't be dismissed as rhetoric as soon as they have a nuke. And suppose they don't actually use one, they simply let it pass into the hands of foreign militants with nothing to lose. That was the horror story the Bush administration told about Iraq, which didn't even have WMD's, but the risk is real with Iran.

    February 6, 2012 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  11. Nothing new here

    Wow – just when things cannot get anymore tense...
    The possibility of war, a major one, in the Middle East.
    Well, just be thankful for whatever you have right now. If war erupts sometime this spring, it will devastate not only the Middle East, but Europe as well.
    America will not go unscathed. Expect the price of oil to skyrocket, and our own weak economy to just get weaker. Whether bombs actually hit our soil remains to be seen. But a economic timebomb is something we do NOT need at this time (or anytime for this matter).

    February 6, 2012 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  12. Anonymous

    To solve Iran neuclear problem with war will be the worst decision for America and Israel. This problem can be only solved through negosiations and win also Iranian trust. Mullahs in Iran are not Taliban.

    February 6, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  13. Frank Rizzo

    Iran has every right to obtain Nuclear Power or Weapons to defend themselves from Nations like Israel, US oh and yea lets not forget the EU.

    Iran is no Iraq and believe me, Israel wants US to another War for them I hope the USG will stand down from this reckless journey and realize that Israel is the greatest threat to the USG and the World.

    February 6, 2012 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  14. svann

    They will regret it if they do.

    February 6, 2012 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  15. Lee

    Let any other country attack another and we'll be all over it but Israel? Well, seems no matter what Israel does we will do nothing, whether it's sinking our ships, killing women and children, or invading other countries, Israel can seem to do no wrong. As far as nuclear arms race in the ME, it would seem Israel has already started that, oh, that's right it's Israel so it's ok.

    February 6, 2012 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  16. jimzcarz

    Israel will tell no one their intentions till they're over. We are a convenience to them and nothing more.

    February 6, 2012 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  17. luke Weyland

    Any attack upon any nation, or any threat of an attack, constitutes a breach of the UN Charter. Any death that results is constitutes a murder.

    Israel, USA and US puppets like my homeland Australia. Stop telling other nations what to do. instead become an example of a state which does not kill its convicts. A state that protects the rights of All its citizens. A nation that welcomes people fleeing persecution, war and oppression. A nation that contributes atleast 1% of its GDP to aiding the poor in other lants.

    February 6, 2012 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  18. Yeki

    And that guy won the peace nobel prize! Another war, another massacre,...
    They cannot even prove Iran is developing nuclear weapon! Can't you remeber Iraq? Could they find the chemical weapons they were claiming? The world is drunk and these dirty animals are running blodshed and call themselve peace loving!

    February 6, 2012 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  19. Anonymous

    Why doesn't he just tell everyone when they're ready to attack.

    February 6, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  20. 111

    That's a joke, isn't it? How these contries, which both possess nuclear weapon, can ask other to stop having one? US is the only country who has used nuclear weapon and now it has the right to order other conuntries not to have one! What about Pakistan, India and Israel itself? How come they may have such weapons in the very same region? Iran is not even claiming they are aiming for nuclear weapon!
    Open your eyes people! The history is repaeating itself. The war against Iraq started the exact same way! These people are just big liers! Open your eyes and see what they have done to the poor Iraqi people in the name of freedome, in the name of democracy! Big lies!

    February 6, 2012 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  21. Dan

    This is an opportunity to send all the neo-cons, Cheney, and Rove on behalf of the US to support Isreal. They will fulfill their military duty as well to determine the viability of their intellectual gibberish.

    February 6, 2012 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  22. NoneYa

    The U.S. has absolutely no credibility what-so-ever... Who does the United States government think they are telling someone else what they should and shouldn't do? The United States government has not only condoned torture, but changed U.S. law so that they could (under Bush) (not that anyone could write a law allowing torture) torture. Not to mention braking the Geneva Conventions...

    The U.S. government is continuing to dig all of our graves just as fast as they can...It's truly pathetic!

    February 6, 2012 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  23. Leo

    Iran is the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, and now it seeks nuclear weapons.
    Every peace loving nation should contribute to the efforts to stop Iran. We cannot expect Israel to do the dirty work for everyone else.

    February 6, 2012 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  24. Ronald

    Our partnership with Israel is one sided and ridiculous, and an orchestration of AIPAC. We need to cut the cords. Without Israel, we have NO problems with Iran. If we go in guns blazing alongside our so-called friend, how many American soldiers will die? If Israel is such a friend, why do they send so many spies to America, and spend to much money manipulating public opinion? The tail wags the dog, and if you point it out, you are labelled an anti-semite, and when Jews point it out, they are labelled self-hating Jews. Ridiculous!

    February 6, 2012 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  25. Albert Einstein

    Sounds great.

    February 6, 2012 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
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